“…another wonderful addition to a series of games which continues to last the test of time and impress its dedicated set of fans.”
The Dynasty Warriors saga is well-known for both its telling of the grand stories and legends from the Three Kingdoms era of Chinese history, and for its wild hack and slash action which shows the heroes of this time in the way that these legends intended them to be remembered. Personally, I first came across the series at its second installment, Dynasty Warriors 2, on the PlayStation 2. I have not played in a while now, possibly not since Dynasty Warriors 6, however the games have still always held my interest. They have persistently kept alive a successful and popular franchise and continued to be created for and played by their fans; clearly doing something very right indeed. Now we have reached the eighth instalment of the series with Dynasty Warriors 8, and I among many others was certainly excited to see what had become of it, what was new, and how exciting this old favourite might continue to be!
At first I wanted to reacquaint myself with simply how to play the game. I jumped on in, picking a character that I knew well from the past (Guan Yu to be precise) and starting up a single battle just to get my bearings. Even at the point of setup I was surprised to see just how much had changed, and how much I didn’t know about! Firstly you can now pick your weapons for the battle. Each character has their signature weapon of course, but a second weapon choice gives you the freedom to experiment with something new and test new aspects of the games combat system. Using a second weapon with which your character has less experience can even prove a benefit in-game, as sudden power attacks which can occur when using them against large forces or officers can truly change your fate in a tough fight! Needless to say, once I had seen that I could customise such things now, I dived right into that battle full of excitement and intrigue as to what else might be awaiting me!
The combat in this game compared to that of some of its predecessors is something to be admired. There are new features which make what was once a basic hack and slash game into a more extravagant and open one which allows you to explore different ways to fight, and to fight exactly how you want to. For example, the two sets of weapons you possess allow you to change between them during a battle and vary your style of combat based on the situation at hand. Similarly to in previous games, you have a fast light attack, a heavy attack and over time you gain energy towards a special, mosou attack, with different combos of these producing different attacks again. This game also features a rage mode system which can send your character into a burst of more powerful attacks in trickier situations. To put all of this simply, the fighting in Dynasty Warriors 8 is more in-depth, and quite simply better, than it has ever been before. What’s more, you can even now whistle for your horse while battling to make a quick escape if things get too hairy; an invaluable ability it must be said! All of this adds up to one simple conclusion though; you can fight better, so you can kill better. Every Dynasty Warriors game has pitted you in a situation where you can kill a couple of hundred enemy soldiers with your one-man army, but in this game it just seems easier to defeat even more people even faster. This is good. This is fun. This is hack and slash at its best.
So a major plus for the game is clearly the fact that it is still doing hack and slash right, very right. Obviously fans will be looking for something new on offer too with this new release though, and they may be pleased to know there are a few new additions to try. Firstly, some of the more popular officers from previous games have been added to the list of playable characters available in the game, so players will have some new styles to play with. Of course, the classic lineup is still available too, so there is no need to worry about old favourites having disappeared. Further to this the game features new and improved missions in its story mode which give a greater insight than ever before into the wars between the Three Kingdoms. As part of this, an exciting new “What If” mode has been created which shows how things might have turned out if certain events happened differently. This means that players can explore events which they have certainly never seen before in Dynasty Warriors, alongside classic battles such as the favourite Battle of Hu Lao Gate.
Dynasty Warriors 8 introduces a new Ambition Mode to the game, in which the player builds up their own kingdom in order to impress and win the favour of the Emperor. This new, role playing-style mode is different to what has been on offer in the series to now, and an interesting new move for the developers to have made. You must battle nearby officers to gain new allies to your cause and gather resources with which to continue your construction. From your own home camp you can also improve your own character by purchasing new weaponry and items in order to move onto greater fights along your path. While this new mode is a nice symbol of the advancing forwards of the Dynasty Warriors series, it may well turn out to be the “marmite” of this game. Some people are likely to love the new way to play and will enjoy the effort that has clearly gone into attempting to make something new for fans to experience. Others will not appreciate the move into a different style of gaming, and while the traditional hack and slash action does play a big part in this mode it is not so much the focus. Generally speaking however, Ambition Mode has been done fairly well, but there is space to improve some of its workings if it continues to be a part of future releases. The role-playing elements are presently a little bit crude, and the style of play is not as gripping as it could be. It is positive to see this advancement, but work is required to make it reach its full potential in the future and to convince hardcore fans of the series that it is something they will enjoy.
Dynasty Warriors 8 is another wonderful addition to a series of games which continues to last the test of time and impress its dedicated set of fans. With a healthy mix of classic and new features, the game sticks to what made it great at the same time as attempting to continue to push forwards, offering its fans and new gamers alike something new and interesting to try. The improved combat system and story mode have given the game a much more in-depth style despite its core simplicity which fits it nicely into the hack and slash genre. The new Ambition Mode is indeed an ambitious step forwards, however work can be done with it to improve the way it plays in order for it to offer a greater appeal to those who do not yet see the attraction. Overall however, the game has done well to do its predecessors proud, and certainly shows that Dynasty Warriors is not going downhill in its age or indeed disappearing anywhere just yet!
The Good – The game sticks to the classic features which made its predecessors great as well as introducing some excellent new features which complement these and show the continuing progression of the series.
The Not So Good – The new Ambition Mode has not yet reached its full potential, and could be improved in future releases to attract players to what it has to offer.
Most Recommended To – Fans of the series and new gamers who are interested in it alike; a perfect point of entry and a great continuation to the series alike.
Disclaimer:All scores given within our reviews are based on the artist’s personal opinion; this should in no way impede your decision to purchase the game.